Friday, February 25, 2011

We Don't Need That Much Food!

My friend and I had dinner the other night at a nice little Italian restaurant near Vail. There was a grilled zucchini dish with mozzarella and linguini on the menu, so we decided to order it.

But instead of each ordering that entree, we asked to split a single order.

Good choice, because it was a lot of food. That's typical in most restaurants. They give you big plates, and those plates are full ~ probably to justify the price.

This item was $13.50. Turns out, cut in half, the portion was just right. It also came with olives, hummus, and roasted garlic, and a bowl of warm grain bread. But I would have paid $10 or $11 for the same amount, rather than what turned out to be roughly $7.

My point is, I feel well served at a restaurant when I get a nutritious meal that isn't crawling off the plate. I want to finish it all and feel satisfied, but not stuffed!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake!

So does healthy eating mean you never again swing through McDonald's? Is chocolate cake forever off the menu for you?

I heard Rush Limbaugh this week criticize national food maven Michelle Obama for eating barbeque ribs!

If you're going to eat well, and not be in a constant state of vigilance, it can't be an "all or nothing" proposition. Culturally, we frame things that way. And it sets us up for failure.

The challenge is to be aware of your choices.

Maybe your day is packed, you forgot the sandwich you had wrapped the night before and placed in the fridge, and you only have a half hour to eat and get to a meeting. McDonald's can be the solution ~ just be aware of what you're ordering.

Eventhough most of my meals are prepared here at home using fresh stuff, tonight I experimented with Campbell's tomato soup. I combined a large can of it with a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, a dash of garlic salt, and some dried basil. After it was good and hot, I topped it with some shaved Parmesan cheese. (If I had some fresh tomatoes, I would have used them ~ but they're out of season here so I don't buy them)

The soup was cheap and delicious. I won't be having it every night, but once in awhile it's an easy way to add more nutrients to a plain old can of tomato soup. A few slices of sauteed onion or scallions would have made it even better!

The point here is that you are mindful to make everything you eat as nutritious as you can. It's your body's fuel. Some meals will be better than others.

A keynote to help keep you on course is water. It's truly the elixir of life, and a constant reminder that simplicity should be the litmus for living well!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This...

Anyone under 50 may not recognize these lyrics ~ they "date" me!

Basically, the message is that there are good days and bad days ~ and that's especially true when it comes to eating!

No matter what you're level of resolve, there will be days when you don't eat well. Under stress, we gravitate towards sugar, fat and salt ~ and there are plenty of offerings wherever we look. It happens, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're "off the wagon." You've just diverted your path a bit.

My very pregnant daughter-in-law commented her last several credit card charges were to McDonald's. Right now she's caring for her two daughers, ages 3 and 1, and waiting for baby number three, while her husband works overseas. She's been pretty careful about how she eats until recently ~ but its understandable that the whole eating equation looks very different right now.

The key here is awareness.

If you've had the opportunity to notice that eating some foods give you energy, and some foods take your energy away, you've made progress because your choices are clearer than when you never noticed.

When we never notice what we're really doing, our actions are mindless ~ whether it's eating, drinking, gambling, drugs ~ it doesn't matter.

We all know life can be better ~ no matter what our circumstances.

The key is to believe in your ability to choose ~ and to recognize those opportunities.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Same Food ~ More Grounding Experience

I had salmon pasta with spinach and capers again last night ~ but it was a totally different experience than the meal I wrote about in my last blog.

First of all, it was left-over food from our restaurant dinner four or five days earlier. There obviously wasn't as much, but I heated it up in a pan along with baby spinach leaves. I fixed a salad with crisp, romaine lettuce and sliced some red onions, topped with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar dressing.

My husband decided he wasn't hungry, so I ate alone. It all felt "right" to me.

This time, I hadn't created an expectation by suggesting we go out for dinner ~ we clearly had two different goals that evening. I was also hungry for connection, and he was just hungry for ~ well, food. As I mentioned earlier, the result was that we both ate too much.

Last night our choices were much healthier and satisfying. My husband didn't eat just because I was eating. He decided he really wasn't hungry, and opted instead to create time and space for himself and read his book. I, too, enjoyed the time to reflect in the quiet, and noticed that I was plenty satisfied with a third of the food I had been served on our night out.

But the other interesting thing here was that we were each connecting with ourselves in this period of solitude. The TV was off ~ and we were each operating in our own "space," with no expectation from the other. It was nice to know that that was just fine ~ for both us.

No one was in a snit or manipulating with silence ~ we've all done that, and we all know how crappy it feels!

What I found interesting was that neither one of us felt drawn to scan the cupboards or troll through the refrigerator later that night ~ perhaps because we had been truly mindful of what we were truly hungry for!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In the Company of Others

There's much to be said for dining with friends ~ particularly when it comes to eating out.

I think there's a certain tedium that can be present when you eat with the same person every night (as in husband or wife). Occasionally sitting down with another couple tends to elevate the whole experience, and everyone leaves the table a lot more satisfied.

I was struck by this the other night when my husband and I decided to go out for dinner after work, rather than go home. In my mind, it would be a "date" night. My husband of thirty years was probably looking at it as just eating somewhere else. Turns out, it was pretty much that.
Our conversation was predictable ~ he knew what my responses would be, and I, his.

So that meant that the food factor was pretty much the main event. It was certainly good enough ~ linguini mixed with salmon, capers and spinach. The problem was, there was too much of it. We were just ~ well ~ eating!

"Do you think it was worth $50?" my husband asked as we left.

"I think when we go out to eat, we should invite another couple," I replied.

He agreed.

Not to make a pun here, but we really weren't bringing anything new to this expensive table. Nurturing involves more than eating ~ it's feeding our souls, as well. The dynamic of sitting in the company of others adds that dimension, so it isn't all about the food.

Because if it's all about food, you'll only crave more of what you don't really want!